Not to Be Missed – Our Top Ten Favourites
“If you get a chance try the walk to & from the Barranco de la Luna it was an amazing place.”
Sun, Snow and Summer
One of the top ten attractions in Granada has to be the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The ski resort at Pradollano is situated at a height of 2.100 metres and the top station reaches 3.300 metres. Considered the sunniest ski resort in Europe with over 80% of sunny days, the season runs from late November to early May. However, summertime activities are becoming more frequent, trekking and biking being firm favourites. Take a chair lift from 2.100 m to 3.100 m to walk “The Trails of the Melting Snow” (in the video) to La Laguna de las Yeguas or the peak of the Veleta. Guided routes available. For the kids the Mirlo Blanco Activity Circuit is a must. Why not try the one day trekking routes organised by Spanish Highs Mountain Guides from May to October. At just under an hour from Restábal, Pradollano can be visited with ease. On the way, visit the wonderful, mountain, botanical garden, Hoya de Pedraza.
Sun, Sea and Sand
Just imagine that, after a morning skiing, you could drive down to the coast and continue to enjoy the sun on a long, sandy beach or in a small rocky cove. Well, you can do just that. The beaches of Granada’s Costa Tropical are only about 1 hour 20 minutes from the ski resort. Not skiing? The drive from Casa Tagomago takes about 30 minutes to Salobreña and Motríl. The beaches of Playa Granada, Cala La Rijana, Playa de la Charca, La Guardia, La Herradura, Carchuna and Calahonda, to name a few, are all worth a visit, several with the Blue Flag distinction. While you’re on the coast, why not feast on some freshly caught fish or a paella for your lunch at one of the chiringuitos (beach bars) or a restaurant on the promenade. For details of the Costa Tropical beaches, visit Best Beaches on Granada’s Costa Tropical.
Lecrín Valley History
The Lecrín Valley is peppered with the remains of ancient Moorish castles and towers, bridges, old olive and flour mills as well as churches, hermitages and mansion houses. Many of these monuments are almost lost deep in the countryside, making for a very pleasant journey of discovery to reach them. All the eighteen Lecrín Valley villages have an interesting landmark, be it an old wash house such as the one in Melegís, a mill, Molino Las Laerillas, a tower, a bridge or a mansion house. In Restábal, as well as the houses with coats of arms, there’s a wonderful construction, La Lonja, considered to have been an old fish market. Located on the ancient Royal Road from Granada to Motríl, just a stone’s throw from Casa Tagomago, it occupies the site of what was possibly the village fountain and wash house, later used by the fishermen for selling their wares on their way to Granada.
A Natural Monument in Nigüelas
Known in Spanish as the Falla de Nigüelas (and nothing to do with the Fallas of Valencia) this impressive geological accident runs 15 kilometres from the mountains of Sierra Nevada to the Dúrcal – Padul depression where the remains of what was the ancient Mediterranean Sea now form the Wetlands and Peat Bogs of Padul.
Just below the village of Nigüelas you will find this huge geological fault. It is an enormous section of terrain, rich in marble, with an unusual light colour. It was formed through tension in the earth’s crust that broke up and moved the rocky blocks that form the fault. This extract is from Andalucia.org
Wetlands and Peat Bogs
One of our favourite outings is to the Wetlands and Peat Bogs of Padul, just 20 minutes from Restábal. These are the most important wetlands in the province of Granada, a specially protected area within the Natural Park of Sierra Nevada. The reedbed, one of the largest in Andalucia, is refuge to more than 200 species of birds in search of food and rest on their long migratory journeys. The peat bogs are the largest in southern Europe. There are 3 walking routes around the lagoon, the shortest is the Mammoth Route, a 45 minute stroll along a raised boardwalk that crosses the peat bogs. This route is ideal with children as there are several hides along the way. This is a link to a Bird Guide of the Wetlands, some of which you would be likely to see. La Charca (Pond) de Suarez is a small, wetland reserve on Playa de Poniente, Motril, where, in just one afternoon, one can spy more than ten different species of wild, aquatic birds.
Wildflowers and Wanderings
The Lecrín Valley is an ideal base for seeing the flora and fauna of Granada. The wetlands, Sierra Nevada and the Alpujarra offer a unique opportunity for birdwatching. In spring and autumn, wildflower lovers will find hundreds of flowers almost anywhere they go. One of our favourite walks for flowers and butterflies is along the Camino de la Cebada. Take the wonderfully, scenic GR 3204 from Restábal through Pinos del Valle, towards Los Guájares and the coast, until you get to the now ruinous Venta de la Cebada (Cebada Inn) on the right, at the highest point of the route. Just opposite is Torre de la Cebada (Cebada Tower). Stand by the tower and you’ll see the Mediterranean Sea on the one hand and the Sierra Nevada mountains on the other. From here take the long circular walk down to Izbor or just wander along the rural roads, enjoying the spectacular views and the flowers.
The Science Park Granada
This museum in Granada is a great place to visit for a hands on experience for all the family. Just 25 minutes drive from Restábal with ample parking space.
From their website: The Science Park is an interactive museum of over 70.000 m2 . Located a few short minutes on foot from the historic city centre of Granada, it has one of the most varied offers for cultural and scientific leisure in Europe. Out doors:- The Observation Tower. A viewpoint over the City of Granada where you can experience science and technology. Tropical Butterfly Garden. Observe the butterfly life cycle. Over 20 different tropical species. The Flying Predators Workshop. Get to know the ecology and biology of predator birds.
As well as the permanent exhibitions there are several temporary exhibitions during the course of the year.
Visit a Vineyard
Granada is still relatively unknown as a wine producing region. However this is slowly being remedied by numerous, local and artisan wineries. Ranging from wines produced on the plain of the Altiplano, north of the city, to those produced in the Lecrín Valley and the Alpujarra. The grapes for these wines grow at altitudes between 600 and 1,352 metres, this last in the Sierra de Contraviesa, La Alpujarra, is the highest in Europe. The nearest bodega to visit, Bodegas Señorío de Nevada, is in the village of Cónchar, just 15 minutes from Restábal. The bodega offers guided tours, wine tasting courses and an interesting, dining experience in the modern restaurant. In the photo the grape harvest at Alto Valle, a small vineyard in Restábal. Near Torvizcón, in the Alpujarra, at the Alpujarride Wine Centre, one can try those wines of “great height” and even do some grape stomping!
It’s time for some tapas talk! When in Granada do what the locals do and make the tapa a social and culinary event. Spoilt for choice with every bar in the province offering some kind of tapa together with the drinks you order, it can be confusing. Remember that most tapas bars include a tapa in the price of your drink, so order your drink first and wait and see what they bring! Not able to put away so much liquid? You can order any of the tapas or a selection separately. Go on a tapas crawl in the city of Granada, the best way to enjoy the ritual, trying different bars to see which you like best. Often just tiny premises, they may have standing room only and there could be some friendly elbowing involved to get to see the tapas. Seating is often on the pavements at tables that can fill up even in mid winter. Calle Elvira and Calle Navas are the main Tapas streets but you’ll find tasty proposals all over the city. So put on comfortable shoes and sally forth for a great experience.
As mentioned before, Restábal boasts two small, supermarkets but your shopping experience doesn’t stop here! Many of the Lecrín Valley villages have a weekly market, albeit just a few small stalls. In Restábal it’s every Saturday, selling houshold goods, textiles and footwear (excellent slippers). The largest in the Valley is the typical, village market every Wednesday in Dúrcal. In Melegís and Nigüelas, on two Sundays a month, you’ll find locally produced organic fruit and vegetables, as well as local crafts at the small market Comete el Valle (Eat the Valley). On a larger scale, the Ecomercado de Granada offers similar wares every Saturday in Granada. And don’t miss the popular car boot sale held every Sunday in Nerja, Malaga, just 45 minutes from Restábal. With a large selection of all kinds of goods, your only regret will be that you aren’t traveling in a large van!